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Kingdom of Romania

 This article is part of the
History of Romania series.
 Romania in the Middle Ages
 National awakening of Romania
 Kingdom of Romania
 Romania during World War II
 Communist Romania
 Romania since 1989

From 1859 to 1877, Romania evolved from a "personal union" of two principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) under a single prince to a full-fledged kingdom with a Hohenzollern monarchy. After the defeat of the great empires of Central and Eastern Europe in World War I, "Greater Romania" added Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina. However, "Greater Romania" was not to survive World War II.

Table of contents
1 Unification and monarchy
2 The interbellum years

Unification and monarchy

The 1859 ascendancy of Alexander John Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Wallachia under the nominal suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire united an identifiably Romanian nation under a single ruler. In 1862 the two principalities were formally united to form Romania, with Bucharest as its capital.

On February 23, 1866 a so-called Monstrous coalition, composed of Conservatives and radical Liberals, forced Cuza to abdicate. The German prince Carol (Charles) of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as Prince of Romania, in a move to assure German backing to unity and future independence. His descendants were to serve as the kings of Romania until the rise of the communists in 1947.

In 1877, following a Russian-Romanian-Turkish war, Romania became completely independent. Charles was crowned as Carol, the first King of Romania, in 1881.

The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires, with Slavic neighbors on three sides, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative models.

In 1916 Romania entered World War I on the Entente side. Although the Romanian forces did not fare well militarily, by the end of the war the Austrian and Russian empires were gone; governing bodies created in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina chose union with Romania, upheld in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon.

Kingdom of Romania, 1920-1940


1859 Alexander John Cuza unites Moldavia and Wallachia under his personal rule.
1862 Formal union of Moldavia and Wallachia to form principality of Romania.
1866 Cuza forced to abdicate in favor of Carol I.
1877 (May 9) Romanian independence declared.
1878 Under Treaty of Berlin, Ottoman Empire recognizes Romanian independence.
1881 Carol I crowned King of Romania.
1907 Peasant protests crushed throughout Romania, over 10,000 killed.
1914 Death of King Carol I, succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand.
1916 (August) Romania enters World War I on the Entente side.
1918 "Greater Romania."

The interbellum years

The resulting "Greater Romania", did not survive World War II. Most of Romania's pre-World War II governments maintained the form, but not the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The National Liberal Party, dominant in the years immediately after WWI, became increasingly clientelist and nationalist, and in 1927 was supplanted in power by the National Peasant Party. Between 1930 and 1940 there were over 25 separate governments.

The 1930s saw the rise of a number of ultra-nationalist parties, notably the quasi-mystical fascist Iron Guard movement, exploiting nationalism, fear of communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of the economy. On February 10, 1938, in order to prevent the formation of a government that would have included Iron Guard ministers, and in direct confrontation to Adolf Hitler's expressed support of the Iron Guard, King Carol II dismissed the government and instituted a short-lived royal dictatorship. (These events are further detailed in the article Romania during World War II.)

In 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which stipulated, among other things, the Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia.


1918 "Greater Romania."
Constitution of 1918 grants citizenship to the Jews and other previously disenfranchised minorities.
1920 Treaty of Trianon upholds Romanian unification.
1921 (Generally unsuccessful) agrarian reform.
1923 Liberal constitution of 1923.
Christian National Defense League (LANC) founded.
1924 LANC member (later Iron Guard founder) C.Z. Codreanu assassinates Prefect of Police in Iaşi but is acquitted.
1926 Liberal Electoral Law adopted.
"Little Entente" with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and Franco-Romanian Treaty.
1927 National Peasant Party takes over government from National Liberal Party.
Legion of the Archangel Michael, later Iron Guard, splits off from LANC.
Carol II becomes Regent, with his 5-year-old son Michael (Mihai) as king.
1929 Beginning of the Great Depression.
1930 Carol II crowned King.
1931 First ban on Iron Guard.
1933 (February 16) Griviţa Railcar Workshops strike violently put down by police.
(December 10) Prime Minister Ion Duca "dissolves" the Iron Guard, arresting thousands; 19 days later he is assassinated by Iron Guard legionnaires.
1935 LANC and National Agrarian Party merge to form the fascist National Christian Party (NCP).
1937 Electoral "non-aggression pact" between National Peasant Party and Iron Guard, later adding the Agrarian Union. Romanian Communist Party denounces pact, but, in practice, supports the National-Peasants.
LANC forms government, but is rapidly in conflict with Carol II over his Jewish mistress.
1938 (February 10) Royal dictatorship declared. New constitution adopted February 27.
(November 29-30) Iron Guard leader Codreanu and other legionnaires shot on the king's orders.
1939 (March 7) Armand Călinescu forms government.
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact stipulates Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia.
(September 1) Germany invades Poland. Start of World War II.
(September 21) Călinescu assassinated by Iron Guard legionnaires.